The watch industry is obsessed with utility. They are always telling us how various timekeeping functions can make a real practical difference to a person’s life. The second timezone is a good example. You are on a business trip and want to call home without waking anyone up. Yes, of course you could find out the time back home by consulting the very smartphone that you are using to make the call, but why waste precious milliseconds working your thumb when you can instead glance lovingly at an elegant world-travelling watch?

When the wristwatch properly became a thing just over a century ago it really was all about practicality. Flying and fighting meant that pocket watches didn’t cut it any more, and before long everybody – both soldier and civilian – was wearing a watch. And this sense of a faithful, indispensable companion is what sustains the industry now, albeit for a society with very different needs.

H. Moser & Cie’s pre-SIHH announcement, the Pioneer Tourbillon, was one that caused a double take. It is presented as an “all-terrain tourbillon” with a hard-wearing steel case that is water resistant to 120 metres. Now tourbillons divide opinion: some say it is a beautiful example of the watchmaker’s creative genius; others say it is an unnecessarily complicated addition with negligible timekeeping gain.

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Tourbillon
H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Tourbillon

Wherever you stand on that argument, the tourbillon is not generally something that you associate with action. Well, possibly if you are Richard Mille, but tourbillons for the most part go in watches that are treated with a great care, rather than taken to great depths.

But H. Moser has got into quite a habit of doing things its own way. At the last SIHH they did the watch industry equivalent of running naked through the quad by making the Swiss Icons Watch, a mash-up of watch styles from some of the biggest Swiss brands. And the year before it was the Swiss Mad Watch, with a case made of real Swiss cheese in an attempt to draw attention to deficiencies in the Swiss Made label.

Automatic HMC 804 manufacture movement
Automatic HMC 804 manufacture movement

So perhaps the idea of a go-anywhere tourbillon is not so off the wall. But practicality is not really the question, it really comes down to whether you like it or not. And like everything from Moser, it is a wonderfully executed thing of beauty. The impressive water resistance certainly provides reassurance that the watch is not the delicate flower you may otherwise fear it to be. But just don’t go diving in it – that really would be mad.

Technical Specifications

Movement

Automatic HMC 804 manufacture movement with a double flat hairspring and minimum three-day power reserve and 18K red gold winding rotor. One-minute flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock – complete with skeletonised bridges – is assembled and regulated independently of the movement, allowing easy servicing

Case

42.8-mm stainless steel case, water resistant to 120 meters

Strap

Black alligator leather or black rubber with steel folding clasp engraved with H. Moser logo

H. Moser & Cie Pioneer Tourbillon